Bit By The House Bug At Dirtybird Campout: 1 Of The Best New Music Festivals In 2015
- Photos & Words by Erik Davignon -
A Gonzo-Style Dirtybird Campout Festival Review
What happens when Dirtybird and Do LaB throw a music festival at summer camp? The question had been lurking in the back of my mind ever since I heard Claude Vonstroke (aka Barclay Crenshaw) had rallied LA's production powerhouse, Do LaB, to help bring his latest vision to life. The dream: a summer camp themed music festival that checks egos at the door, encourages freedom of expression, pushes you to be your weirdest self and lets your inner child thrive for a weekend of good times and debauchery with a community that plays hard and sticks together, no matter what. This is the story of how I found my new beautiful, sexy, freaky family - Dirtybird!
Dirtybird Campout constantly pushed me outside of my comfort zone, but seemed ready to reward each uncomfortable moment with an awesome experience. This was my first time arriving to a festival alone, but I had enough faith in the Do LaB and their incredible family that I felt comfortable showing up without a plan for camp-and just as I had hoped, everything worked out perfectly!
Within 10 minutes of showing up, my neighbors - Curtis, Lauren, Christine, Matt and Chris - had taken me in and welcomed me to their camp. After setting up my gear and cooling off with a quick beer, I was off to capture a few shots of Camp Dirtybird at sunset. About 30 minutes into the event I found a yoga class in a beautiful park and eagerly approached to snap a few pics. As I checked out the scene I noticed a very familiar character in my frame. It was Claude Vonstroke in his full Camp Counselor uniform doing yoga in the grass with his fellow Dirtybird campers. (Can you find him in the top picture, too?)
The moment I saw Vonstroke doing yoga my mind was put to ease. I knew that the Do LaB's presence would be strong throughout the festival and grew even more excited for the nights ahead. Taking full advantage of this opportunity, I put my camera away and spent a few moments doing yoga with the humble legend and Dirtybird Label Boss. It was an honor to witness the party animal taking in some down time before raging without sleep for the next 72 hours. His decision to do so reminded me of Lucent Dossier's founder and Do LaB legend, Dream Rockwell, when she told us at Lightning in a Bottle 2015, "I like to do yoga, and I like to party - and those 2 things happen to go really well together!"
As I pushed on to explore the rest of camp, I caught the tail end of Sacha Robotti's set hype up the crowd. Then Mikey Lion's set really got the place bumping. It felt incredible to be back at Oak Canyon Ranch where my love for music festivals blossomed 6 years ago at my first LIB. I was back at home, deep within my element, and the entire crowd was ecstatic to be there, too!
Once the sun had fully set I returned to camp for the big switch. All I needed for the temperature change was a light jacket because it was so warm. A stiff drink from the neighbors and few light beers also helped deal with the nighttime weather. While Justin Jay played in the distance, I felt completely relaxed - possibly for the first time at a music festival - because we could hear the stage and didn't have to worry about missing any sets. I really got to enjoy the experience, hang out with new friends and - when the time was right - we took a 5 minute stroll to party central where Ardalan, Breach and Justin Martin were dropping booty-shaking house beats all night.
The music helped us bounce off the short lived breezes until it was time to migrate over to the Late Night Lodge. The decision to rock 1 stage at a time was brilliant; it meant we only had to change stages once. At the Late Night Lodge we caught the likes of Solar, Daniel Bell, and Paranoid London who kept the campers raging until Christian Martin blew everyone's mind with a rockin' 4-hour sunrise set!
Playlist: The House Bug Bit Me
On Saturday we enjoyed a true summer camp experience as the park came to life with activities. Campers had the choice of joining in on tug-of-war matches, rounds of mini golf and bouts of archery in between boat races, water balloon tosses and scavenger hunts. There was a game, class or challenge for everyone. When we spoke to Crenshaw he said, "I hope you all have a chance to sign up for activities." This was a suggestion he truly stood by as he was unquestionably the camp's most involved participant - playing multiple roles as counselor, announcer, competitor, cheerleader and hype man throughout the weekend.
By Saturday evening I was joined by my girlfriend - and festival sidekick gangsta numba 1 - in time to catch Kill Frenzy bring the noise just before Laura Jones opened for Counselor Claude. When the fearless leader took the helm, he bumped the house beats we expected to hear from Dirtybird Records throughout his sets. One of our favorite tracks had my neighbor, Ana, running around shouting, "Barrump!" for the rest of the festival.
The second evening's Late Night Lounge brought a refreshing change to the house heavy lineup. Eprom dropped a set that melted all of our minds and even left Vonstroke twirling his finger in the air - not quite knowing what to expect next from his beats. It was awesome. Although we got a bit of rain later in the night, it never dampened our spirits and we partied all night!
When Nosaj Thing took over, he put the crowd in a melodic trance with his beautiful style of hypnotic beats. He was a great opener for the mysterious Barclay Crenshaw (aka Claude Vonstroke) who played a 5AM set under his own name. The decision to do so stemmed from Crenshaw's relentless pursuit of new projects. His self titled project is a space for him to expand his mixing skills and try out his new interests. We were treated to a taste of west coast bass with a bit of a trap vibe. Everyone loved the set, but it certainly caught most of us off guard. Regardless, Dirtybird Campout filled the southern California air with plenty of the best electronic music in the world for 3 straight days!
Sunday's activities seemed to get more intense than ever as Orange Team, Purple Team, Yellow Team and Green Team came closer and closer to taking home the first Dirtybird Campout Championship Trophy. I never imagined the sports would be taken so seriously at an electronic music festival - but everyone seemed to be leaving it all on the field. We spotted Jesse Flemming - one of the Do LaB brothers - getting down with a team of dodgeball pros, literally leaving their competition face down in the mud. Although the games got pretty heated, everyone was having a blast.
Some teams seemed to have advantages while others suffered from self-induced disadvantages. To say the least, Regretamine Dodgeball might not be on everyone's list of bright ideas for next year. Another lesson some campers chose to learn the hard way: alcohol does not make a great sports drink - but hey, now they know!
When I asked Crenshaw how it was to work with the Do LaB he said, "It's been absolutely amazing." He explained that after playing a few years at Lightning in a Bottle he realized Do LaB has the same family run vibe as Dirtybird Records. It was an obvious choice for him to let the Do LaB help produce his dream festival when it came time to make things happen, "I just told them what I wanted and they made it happen."
"It might sound crazy," said Crenshaw, "but doing this festival has been easier than our barbecues because Do LaB is so on top of their shit." His words made perfect sense when I heard them. The Do LaB always does an excellent job and never fails to exceed my expectations. I have always said that they can throw an awesome event regardless of the lineup and the inaugural Dirtybird Campout let those extracurricular skills shine!
The Do LaB's team of party liasons, Fungineers and camp counselors added a special touch to all areas of the festival. Between giant bubbles, beat-boxing-puppet side shows and hilarious performances, they definitely added a bit of much needed magic to the event. Ultimately, the combination of forces created a perfect party atmosphere.
I was happy to hear the Dirtybird family adopt Do LaB's motto, "Pack it in, pack it out". They also brought green awareness to the party with compostable vendor wares, free water filling stations and their standard Recycle/Compost/Landfill receptacles throughout the grounds. Together the 2 families joined forces and made it clear that Dirtybird is more than a record label - it's a community - and its future is very bright!
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Peace and love,
Best Music Fest Media Team